Lists

Where, When and How Central 70 Project Will Mess Up Your Life

Get ready — and stay ready until at least 2022.
Get ready — and stay ready until at least 2022. Colorado Department of Transportation
Ground has finally been broken and construction is slated to begin in earnest this week on the massive Central 70 project, which the Colorado Department of Transportation expects to take four to five years to complete.

This imprecision is likely to worry the many thousands of commuters who use the ten-mile stretch between the mousetrap where I-70 and I-25 meet and Chambers Road, and that's understandable. Undertakings this huge tend to take longer (and cost more money) than originally estimated.

Even CDOT acknowledges that its predictions involve some guesswork. The department's timeline, one of several images on view below, links the year 2022 with the phrase "Substantial Completion," which provides a high degree of wiggle room. After all, being 51 percent finished by then might qualify under that definition. And in smaller print beneath these words is an acknowledgement that the estimates are "Subject to Change."

With that in mind, here's what CDOT says is on the agenda during the next few months and over the course of several years thereafter, as well its list of things officials believe the Central 70 project "will" and "will not" do.

The assorted statements will be good to keep in mind if the interstate is still torn up come 2024.

click to enlarge Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock were among the dignitaries who took part in the Central 70 project groundbreaking on August 3. - COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock were among the dignitaries who took part in the Central 70 project groundbreaking on August 3.
Colorado Department of Transportation
This summer, CDOT says third-party partners will get to work on ten miles' worth of utility relocations, including Xcel power transmission, several long-haul fibers and what's termed CenturyLink's "backbone."

Additionally, Kiewit Meridiam Partners, the firm chosen to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Central 70 project, will be tasked with relocating twenty miles of storm sewer, moving it from eighteen inches deep to 120 inches, or ten feet.

Also headed lower are three miles of sanitary sewer. Some of it will go from eight inches to thirty inches underground; other sections currently at a ten-foot depth will wind up thirty feet below the surface.

On top of that, there will be multiple utility relocations, including water and sewer, on the south side of 46th Avenue and environmental soil testing at approximately 2,000 locations; they're not specified.

A visualization of the four-acre cover that's the most complicated challenge of the Central 70 project. - COLORADO DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
A visualization of the four-acre cover that's the most complicated challenge of the Central 70 project.
Colorado Department of Transportation
Closures? There'll be a full shutdown of 46th Avenue between Brighton Boulevard and York Street and the construction of a railroad detour known as a "shoo-fly" on either side of the Union Pacific Railroad crossing over 46th between Brighton and York.

In addition, expect to see "clearing and grubbing" — the removal of shrubs, trees and prairie dogs, plus the installation of stormwater protection.

Business access is supposed to be maintained at all times through this process, though it could shift "as needed," CDOT acknowledges. Noise and dust reduction measures will also be put in place, with ongoing monitoring intended to ensure that the situation doesn't deteriorate.

Message boards and signage will update drivers on traffic impacts, CDOT pledges. Expect reduced speed limits through work zones.

Longer-term goals are depicted graphically in the following timeline.
KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts